I remember saving up to buy my first Nintendo. It came with Super Mario Brothers, and I would run home from the bus stop to play for an hour before Little League practice. Now, I don’t get it. Video games look so real that sometimes I have to make a double-take to see if it is real or not! Not only kids, but even adults are becoming addicted — not an hour before baseball — spending countless hours plugged into a virtual world. I must admit, these games can be pretty cool, but that virtual world brings with it countless risks.
In a seminar on human trafficking, I learned that video games that connect players together are ripe environments for predators to cultivate children for capture. Furthermore, this virtual world provides the experience of escapism for children, adolescents and adults who are unable or unwilling to deal with the challenges of life. A wonder of technological advancement in connectivity, and it seems to drive more distance between people than anything else. BTW, the same thing goes for social media.
I was shocked, but not surprised to turn on the news last night and learn of the murders and suicide that took place in Jacksonville, FL, at some sort of a football video game tournament. I didn’t even know they had those. Obviously, this young man was deranged and the tragedy is unquantifiable — lives have been lost. I do not blame the video game, that would be silly; however, I do believe that the contemporary obsession with ‘technological escapism’ is damaging and helps to create an inability to copy with stress, decipher challenges and genuinely interact with others. Authentic relationships are more and more rare, without the filters of manufactured profiles and manufactured responses and a rating system of ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ that provide cheap affirmation for an architected persona. It should not surprise anyone when an individual accustomed to such an experience of self-worth and identity can not deal with the stress of something as trivial as loosing a video game… after all, that video game probably held the keys to his identity and worth.
Unplug. Go play football instead of a football video game. Cancel, or at least limit your Facebook, instagram, snapchat or whatever the next fad is. Go have coffee or lunch with a real person. Get out of your pajamas, take a shower, go into the real world and interact with a real person. Take the chance of them liking you, or even not liking you — either way you will survive. (Re)Learn how to take a punch from life and grow from the experience. And please, look someone in the eye when you talk to them!
The Good Lord has created and blessed the experience of relationships with the ability to bear fruit. Go connect face-to-face with a real person today!